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Senator introduces New Jersey gambling expansion bill

Senator Ray Lesniak
Senator Raymond Lesniak has until January 9, 2018 to pass the bill.

While all eyes are on the New Jersey sports betting case, the state is also attempting to expand its online gambling industry.

New Jersey Senator, Raymond Lesniak, recently introduced a gambling bill which would allow international online casino and poker operators to accept New Jersey residents.

The S3536 bill states that it “allows the division to permit Internet gaming equipment to be located outside of Atlantic City if the division deems it necessary to facilitate the conduct of international Internet wagering.”

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If it passes, the bill will allow New Jersey to team up with international online casino and poker companies.

While New Jersey legalised online casino and poker gaming in 2013, the law requires the companies to have a physical presence in Atlantic City.

Several AC land-based casinos, including the Golden Nugget and Borgata, operate online gaming websites, and while they have teamed up with international operators like WSOP and PokerStars, the options for NJ players remain limited.

The high costs incurred have prevented other smaller international operators from teaming up with AC companies too.

Lesniak’s bill, if approved by the state government, would transform the state’s online gambling industry and allow operators to serve NJ players without the requirement of a land-based presence. It could open the doors to several offshore sites, including those licensed in the UK.

The Senator has been planning on introducing the bill for several months, where he argues that the global online gambling market is expected to grow. He notes Europe’s gambling industry, totalling $15 billion a year in online gambling revenue, and links it to the benefits a New Jersey regulated industry has already delivered.

He states that internet gaming has delivered “$998 million in economic output, over 3000 jobs, $219 million in employee wages, and $124 million in tax revenues” within the first three years of regulation.

He argues that by expanding its online gambling industry via licensed offshore international gambling sites, it could “increase the economic benefit of Internet gaming to Atlantic City and to this State.”

The Senator unsuccessfully attempted to run as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s successor, and will instead retire from politics at the end of this term, meaning the bill will need to pass by January 9, 2018.

New Jersey is currently fighting for a repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) 1992 in the Supreme Court, and it’s not clear if the case will have any impact on the bill.

A legal challenge prevented the state from integrating sports betting into its casinos and racetracks several years ago, which prompted Christie to repeal PASPA.

Lower courts have dismissed the case, upholding the four major sporting leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s view that the ban is constitutional.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case on December 4 earlier this year, with several justices showing support for NJ’s arguments.